Follow-up Audit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Efforts to Hire, Train,
and Retain Intelligence Analysts

Audit Report 07-30
April 2007
Office of the Inspector General

Executive Summary

Prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operated primarily as a law enforcement agency with a limited intelligence capability. After the terrorist attacks, the FBI recognized the need to improve its intelligence capacity, not only through collecting information but also analyzing it, connecting it to other vital information, and disseminating the results to others. To improve in these areas, during the past 5 years the FBI has significantly increased the number of FBI intelligence analysts. As of September 2006, the FBI had over 2,100 intelligence analysts, split almost evenly between its Headquarters and 56 domestic field offices. The FBI’s analysts perform a critical role in helping transform the FBI into an agency with law enforcement and intelligence capacities, both of which are required in order to meet the FBI’s highest priority of preventing future terrorist attacks.1

Audit Approach

In May 2005, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued an audit report that examined the hiring, allocation, training, utilization, and retention of intelligence analysts.2 In the current review, we examined the FBI’s progress in implementing the recommendations from our May 2005 report, and we also examined the FBI’s continuing efforts to improve its hiring, training, retention, and use of intelligence analysts.

The OIG’s May 2005 report contained 15 recommendations to improve the FBI’s intelligence analysis program. The FBI concurred with all of the recommendations and began addressing many of them. Based on the FBI’s reported actions, we closed 5 of the 15 recommendations. However, as of December 2006, 10 of the 15 recommendations in our May 2005 audit report remained open. The 10 open recommendations generally involve establishing hiring goals for intelligence analysts, developing a threat- or risk-based methodology for determining the number of intelligence analysts needed, allocating intelligence analysts, and improving the training and utilization of analysts.

In performing this follow-up audit, we interviewed 60 intelligence analysts and 16 intelligence analyst supervisors in FBI Headquarters and in 4 field offices to follow up on our survey of all FBI intelligence analysts in our prior audit. We also interviewed FBI officials from the Directorate of Intelligence and the Administrative Services, Training and Development, and Finance Divisions. In addition, we reviewed documents related to the budgeting, hiring, training, utilization, and retention of intelligence analysts.

Results in Brief

This follow-up audit found that the FBI has made progress in improving the hiring, training, utilization, and retention of intelligence analysts, although in some areas the progress has been slow and uneven.

For example, the FBI has made progress in its utilization of intelligence analysts. In our prior audit we found that intelligence analysts too often were assigned to perform routine administrative rather than analytical tasks. In this follow-up review, we found that this underutilization of analysts has largely been corrected. The FBI has also kept the attrition of analysts at a reasonable level and has begun conducting exit surveys that should provide data to help the FBI further improve the hiring, training, utilization, and retention of its intelligence analysts. In addition, the FBI continues to augment the size of its intelligence analyst workforce by hiring qualified candidates. As we found in our prior audit, analysts continue to express high levels of satisfaction with their work assignments and believe they are making important contributions to the FBI’s mission.

Yet, the FBI has made slow progress in successfully implementing several other recommendations of our previous report. For example, the FBI has not:

Further, we identified several additional, related concerns in our current audit regarding intelligence analysts:

The following sections provide greater details on these findings.

Hiring Intelligence Analysts

The FBI has increased the number of intelligence analysts by 54 percent since 2004. Although the FBI remains 400 analysts below its FY 2006 funded staffing level (FSL) of 2,574, the vacancy rate has decreased from 32 percent in FY 2004 to 16 percent in FY 2006.3 The FBI conducted a hiring “blitz” in early 2005 that used a nationwide recruiting strategy and attracted over 11,000 applicants, of which over 300 were interviewed. During FY 2006, the FBI hired 375 intelligence analysts, bringing the total number of intelligence analysts to 2,174.

By replacing its former decentralized hiring process, the FBI’s nationwide recruitment strategy allowed it to consider and process a greater number of candidates to meet its aggressive hiring goals. In addition, the strategy enabled all candidates to apply to the same job posting rather than to separate postings for vacancies throughout the FBI. In another initiative, the FBI sought experienced intelligence professionals to fill higher-graded positions within Headquarters operating divisions. During this latter hiring initiative, the FBI received about 4,100 applications, interviewed 350, and selected 100. Aiding the FBI’s ability to attract intelligence analysts since our last audit was a legal exemption it received which allowed a higher grade progression for FBI intelligence analysts, placing the FBI on par with other intelligence agencies.4

The table below shows the total number of FBI analysts hired and on board from FY 2001 through FY 2007, projected.

Number of Intelligence Analysts Hired and On-board
from FY 2001 through FY 2007

Fiscal Year Hired a On-board
(end of FY)
2001 46 1,023
2002 98 1,012
2003 265 1,180
2004 349 1,413
2005 678 1,998
2006 375 2,174
2007 250 projected  
Source: OIG based on FBI data

Note (a): The number of intelligence analysts includes new hires and transfers from other FBI positions.

However, the speed with which new intelligence analysts can begin work is slowed by the time required to complete the hiring process. Due to the nature of the FBI’s work, all FBI employees must qualify for a top-secret security clearance before they can begin their service. After applicants receive a conditional offer of employment, the background investigation process begins. The investigation includes a drug test, a polygraph, and an extensive investigation into the applicant’s credit history, drug use, personality, and any legal violations. As shown in the table below, we found that from FY 2004 to FY 2006, the average time from when the job announcement closes until the intelligence analyst candidate enters on duty increased from approximately 132 to 217 days. Several FBI managers stated that the lengthy screening process might cause candidates to lose patience and accept employment elsewhere.

Average Number of Days to
Hire Intelligence Analysts

Time Period Average Number
of Days
FY 2002 133
FY 2003 167
FY 2004 132
FY 2005 160
FY 2006a 217
Source: OIG based on FBI data

Note (a): FY 2006 data is through August 29, 2006.

Another concern is the FBI’s lack of threat and risk-based criteria to determine the number of analysts needed to meet the FBI’s mission, as we recommended in our prior report. We also recommended that the FBI base hiring goals on the projected need for additional analysts, forecasted attrition, and the FBI’s ability to hire, train, and utilize new analysts. Although the FBI agreed with these recommendations, it has not yet implemented them. Instead, the FBI bases its hiring goals on the number of positions allowed by the budget, but it does not base its budget request on an objective assessment of the number of intelligence analyst positions required to meet the FBI’s goals.

In addition, the FBI does not use threat or risk assessments to allocate all of the hired analysts throughout the FBI. Once hired, analysts are assigned to various Headquarters divisions or offices or to field offices. We found that the FBI’s methodology for allocating new analysts varies. In Headquarters, the allocation of new intelligence analysts is based on filling any vacancies stemming from the historical budget-driven allocation of positions, modified by managers’ expressed needs and requests for additional positions. The FBI fills field office vacancies similarly. However, additional positions allowed by the budget – known as enhancements – are now allocated based on a threat and risk assessment. We believe that using threat and risk criteria for field office enhancements is a step in the right direction. However, the recommendation in our prior report calls for developing and implementing a threat- or risk-based methodology for allocating intelligence analyst positions across both FBI field offices and Headquarters divisions.

Training Intelligence Analysts

Over the past 5 years, the FBI has struggled to develop a suitable training curriculum for intelligence analysts. In October 2001, the FBI established the College of Analytical Studies (CAS) at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. The first course offered was the 5-week Basic Intelligence Analyst (BIA) course held in FY 2002. As a result of student feedback and poor attendance at the BIA, a new 7-week introductory level course for intelligence analysts, called Analytical Cadre Educational Strategy 1 (ACES-1), replaced the BIA in September 2004. In November 2004, the FBI added ACES 1.5 to train intelligence analysts who had already been on board with the FBI prior to the establishment of the analyst training curriculum.

In FY 2006, the FBI reconfigured the ACES training into a 9-week program, called Cohort, which will replace both ACES courses once all analysts who entered on duty prior to 2005 complete ACES. The first 5 weeks of Cohort is designed for new intelligence analysts, language analysts, and other intelligence professionals who comprise the FBI’s Intelligence Career Service. Immediately following the 5-week program, analysts receive an additional 4 weeks of specialized intelligence training. Included in those 4 weeks is one 4-hour joint training exercise between new analysts and new special agents, which is the only combined training for both groups of employees.

As of August 2006, 2,010 analysts had attended basic training: 885 analysts attended the ACES-1 class, 733 attended the ACES 1.5 class, and 392 attended Cohort.

However, our interviews found continued dissatisfaction with the intelligence analyst training courses. Of the 60 analysts we interviewed, 55 percent said that the basic training does not prepare them to perform the tasks required of their positions, such as writing intelligence assessments or preparing intelligence information reports. Additionally, many of the supervisory analysts we interviewed stated that intelligence analysts need better training in preparing intelligence products and that supervisors spend considerable time revising multiple drafts of analysts’ written work in order for it to be correct.

A senior FBI training official said that the new Cohort class is nearly identical to the ACES course and that instead there needs to be more specialized training in areas such as counterterrorism or criminal investigations. Senior managers within the Directorate of Intelligence also told us that intelligence analyst training is inadequate. The Intelligence Directorate’s Assistant Director told us he wants to analyze the skills that analysts require and determine what additional training is needed to develop those skills. However, he said he does not want to develop a new course if training is available through other agencies and if FBI employees can attend.

Divide between Analysts and Agents

In discussing with intelligence analysts and their supervisors how analysts are being utilized, we found a recurring theme of a strong professional divide between analysts and special agents, and that special agents tend to misunderstand the functions and capabilities of intelligence analysts. Eighty percent of the analysts we interviewed, and all the analysts’ supervisors we interviewed, stated that special agents misunderstand the functions and capabilities of intelligence analysts at least some of the time. Although the data shows some improvement since our 2005 report, analysts still frequently reported that the two groups of employees tend not to interact as professional equals.

A unit chief in the Intelligence Career Management Section told us that field office managers are responsible for stressing to special agents the importance of working effectively with intelligence analysts. Yet, in our prior report we had recommended that all special agents – not just new agents – receive training on the role and capabilities of intelligence analysts. However, other than a brief exposure through one joint exercise in new analyst and new special agent training, FBI special agents receive no formal training in the function and proper utilization of intelligence analysts.

Retaining Intelligence Analysts

The FBI has been successful in retaining its intelligence analysts, and we believe the overall attrition rate is reasonable for an organization of the FBI’s size. As shown in the following chart, the attrition rate for intelligence analysts from FYs 2002 to 2004 ranged from 8 percent to 10 percent; for FYs 2005 and 2006, the attrition rate was 6 and 9 percent, respectively.

Attrition Rates from FY 02 through FY 06

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Source: OIG based on FBI data

We found that the attrition rate for intelligence analysts in FY 2006 was higher at Headquarters than in the 56 field offices – 12 percent compared to 5 percent. This difference may be due to greater employment opportunities for intelligence analysts in the Washington, DC, area, but this significantly higher attrition rate warrants the FBI’s attention.

Of the 60 intelligence analysts we interviewed, 65 percent told us they plan on staying with the FBI for at least the next 5 years, which is similar to the finding of 63 percent in our 2005 report. Twenty percent said they are not likely to stay for 5 years, and the remaining 15 percent were uncertain. These percentages were also similar to our prior report (at 22 percent and 14 percent, respectively).

Analysts who said they plan to stay with the FBI cited various reasons, such as they are proud to work for the FBI, they enjoy the work performed, and they are pleased with whom they work. Analysts who said they do not expect to stay cited two main reasons: retirement and career concerns. The following table compares data from our 2005 report to our current audit on the likelihood of analysts remaining with the FBI.

Intelligence Analysts Planning to Stay With the FBI

Likelihood of
staying for the
next 5 years
May 2005 a Current
Very likely 38% 43%
Likely 25% 22%
Unlikely 12% 13%
Very unlikely 10% 7%
Don’t know 14% 15%
Source: OIG interviews of FBI intelligence analysts

Note (a): Does not add to 100 due to rounding.

While the FBI agreed with our prior recommendation to establish formal retention or succession plans with measurable goals, it has not yet acted on this recommendation. An FBI intelligence official told us the Directorate of Intelligence is actively managing the retention of intelligence analysts by monitoring the attrition rate and surveying the analysts to understand their career needs. Also, the FBI has implemented several initiatives to enhance retention, including student loan repayments, bonuses, and the creation of an Intelligence Officer Certification program. Further, the FBI can now offer greater promotion potential to analysts based on a 2005 exemption from statutes limiting the grade structure of intelligence analysts.


The FBI has made progress in improving the hiring, training, utilization, and retention of intelligence analysts since our last review, although in some areas the progress has been slow and uneven.

We found that job satisfaction of analysts remains strong. Most generally believe they are making important contributions to the FBI’s mission. The FBI has also improved the utilization of its analysts, who for the most part no longer are required to perform non-analytical administrative tasks. The FBI’s overall attrition rate is low, and the majority of analysts, as in our last report, indicate that they are likely to stay with the FBI for the next 5 years.

However, we found areas still in need of additional progress. More than 18 months after our original report, the FBI still has not developed (1) threat and risk-based criteria to determine the number of analysts needed to meet its mission and to allocate all analysts in Headquarters as well as the field offices to where they are most needed, (2) hiring goals based on the projected need for additional analysts, and (3) succession and retention plans and strategies with measurable goals. Moreover, despite the FBI’s ability to hire 375 new intelligence analysts in FY 2006, its shortfall of 400 analysts demonstrates the continuing difficulty facing the FBI in attracting qualified analysts. The lengthening time required to bring analysts aboard – nearly a 3-month increase since FY 2004 – is also troublesome, because it can result in the FBI’s losing qualified candidates.

The training program for analysts, which has continued to evolve, needs further refinement. We agree with those analysts and intelligence managers who believe the training program needs a greater emphasis on the specific skills analysts require in their FBI positions. We also believe that the professional divide between analysts and special agents remains a problem, and that the barriers to acceptance and cooperation between the two groups must be addressed if the FBI is to most efficiently and effectively meet its mission, including its highest priority of preventing terrorist acts. Additional training, leadership, and joint efforts are needed to overcome this divide.


In addition to continuing to monitor the 10 open recommendations from our prior report, based on our current audit we are making 3 additional recommendations to aid the FBI in continuing efforts to improve its hiring, training, retention, and use of intelligence analysts. The three new recommendations are that the FBI:
(1) evaluate the hiring and background investigation process to identify ways to accelerate the accession of new intelligence analysts, (2) involve intelligence managers and experienced analysts in curriculum development efforts, and (3) make student and supervisor evaluations of analyst training mandatory, and use the results to identify any needed improvements in the curriculum.

Of the 10 open recommendations, we believe the FBI needs to pay special attention to improving its human capital planning for intelligence analysts, in part by establishing hiring goals based on the forecasted need for intelligence analysts; projected attrition in the analyst corps; and the FBI’s ability to hire, train, and utilize intelligence analysts. In addition, we recommend that the FBI continue to develop and implement a threat- or risk-based methodology for determining the number of intelligence analysts the FBI requires.

  1. When we use the term “analysts” in this report, we are referring to intelligence analysts. The FBI also has other types of analysts, such as financial analysts.

  2. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Efforts to Hire, Train, and Retain Intelligence Analysts, Audit Report Number 05-20, May 2005.

  3. The FSL is the number of positions available in a given year based on that year’s appropriation.

  4. Legislation entitled Making Appropriations for Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2005, and for Other Purposes, signed on December 8, 2004, provided the FBI with additional flexibility to hire and retain highly skilled intelligence personnel through an amendment to Title 5 of the U.S. Code.

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